Saturday, December 23, 2006

Iraq is not lost, and neither is Mr. Bush’s presidency

* Reuel Marc Gerecht in the nyt:
The key for America is the same as it has been for years: to clear and hold the Sunni areas of Baghdad and the so-called Sunni triangle to the north. There will probably be no political solution among the Iraqi factions to save American troops from the bulk of this task. The sooner we start in Baghdad, the better the odds are that the radicalization of the Iraqi Shiites can be halted. As long as this community doesn’t explode into total militia war, Iraq is not lost, and neither is Mr. Bush’s presidency.

* nyt:
"The United States offers some of the most lucrative incentives in the world to companies that drill for oil in publicly owned coastal waters, but a newly released study suggests that the government is getting very little for its money.

The study, which the Interior Department refused to release for more than a year, estimates that current inducements could allow drilling companies in the Gulf of Mexico to escape tens of billions of dollars in royalties that they would otherwise pay the government for oil and gas produced in areas that belong to American taxpayers.

But the study predicts that the inducements would cause only a tiny increase in production even if they were offered without some of the limitations now in place.

It also suggests that the cost of that additional oil could be as much as $80 a barrel, far more than the government would have to pay if it simply bought the oil on its own.
But industry analysts who compare oil policies around the world said the United States was much more generous to oil companies than most other countries, demanding a smaller share of revenues than others that let private companies drill on public lands and in public waters. In addition, they said, the United States has sweetened some of its incentives in recent years, while dozens of other countries demanded a bigger share of revenue."

* Tpmm:
"Funny thing: it turns out that prior to the election, a grand jury issued a subpoena to then-Rep. Weldon for information relating to the FBI's investigation. House rules dictate that all such subpoenas are to be reported publicly in the Congressional Record -- yet Weldon's was never reported, according to the LATimes this morning.

This news means a couple things: First, Weldon appears to have broken the rules when he found them inconvenient.

It also means that leaks or no leaks, news of the FBI's investigation into Weldon should have come out before the election, so Weldon's concerns about loose lips at the bureau seem misplaced. The Congressional Record is read by many reporters -- particularly its items about subpoenas being issued to lawmakers. It would have been on the wires in a heartbeat."

* blumenthal:
"Two members of the ISG were responsible for George W. Bush's becoming president. Baker had maneuvered through the thicket of the 2000 Florida contest, finally bringing Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court, where Sandra Day O'Connor was the deciding vote. (Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker reported that she had complained before hearing the case that she wanted to retire but did not want a Democrat to appoint her replacement.) Through the Iraq Study Group Baker and O'Connor were attempting to salvage what they had made possible in Bush v. Gore. Upon Bush's receipt of the report, a White House spokesman told the press, "Jim Baker can go back to his day job.""

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